'Any way you slice it, cutting autism support by $3 million is not good for kids.' - Reid Johnson.
Vancouver (25 Sept. 2009) - The Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC/NUPGE) says cutting support for needy children is an indefensible way for the B.C. government to cope with budget issues.
HSABC president Reid Johnson says no amount of "government spin" can gloss over the impact of a $3 million cut the Campbell government has announced in support for autistic children across the province.
“Government spin won’t help autistic children and their families,” says Johnson.
Mary Polak, minister of children and family, disclosed the cut in autism services for children under age six last week.
She attempted to disguise the move as an improvement in service, arguing that eliminating a $5 million intensive therapy program for some autistic children would allow the government to increase funding for all autistic children under age six from $20,000 a year to $22,000.
However, given the number of autistic children in the province, the shift actually reduces overall funding to the under six group by more than $3 million, Johnson says.
Meanwhile, the $2,000 per child increase will barely cover the increase in service costs when families begin paying the province's new harmonized sales tax (HST) on autism services next year, he notes.
At the Queen Alexandra Center for Child Health on Vancouver Island, staffing will be cut significantly. More than 40 staff members have already received layoff notices.
“Any way you slice it, cutting autism support by $3 million is not good for kids,” Johnson says.
HSABC represents health science professionals who work with children (and their families) suffering from autism spectrum disorder. The employees include autism intervention specialists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and social workers.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE